Attempts to quash newsletter fly in the face of Oregon laws

A property manager at Wildwood Villa, a manufactured home park in northwest Keizer, appears to have run afoul of Oregon law when attempting to quash one resident’s efforts to organize with his neighbors. 

In June, Wildwood resident Leon Search distributed a newsletter from the community’s tenants committee with an article from the Keizertimes included. The newspaper article included information from an attorney who cautions against signing long-term leases in manufactured home parks. 

Search put the newsletters in flyer boxes owned by Investment Property Group, an Irvine, Calif-based business. Soon after they were distributed, the manager at the park removed them. 

“The letter you last produced was not brought to the attention of management before you put them out. We will therefore not return to the newsletter to flyer boxes as you requested,” wrote Kaycee Edgerton, Wildwood property manager for IPG, in a letter to Search. “Furthermore, the creation and disbursement or your tenant committees’ (sic) newsletter must immediately stop.”

Edgerton couches much of her argument on the premise that the Wildwood’s tenants committee has not been lawfully established, and cites an Oregon law requiring formal registration of homeowners associations (HOAs). While the committee operates under the name Wildwood Homeowners Association, it is not an HOA, it is a tenant committee and is not bound to the laws of establishing an HOA. 

In addition to demanding a cease-and-desist, Edgerton also warns against Search distributing newsletters door-to-door. 

“Should you choose to post non-approved newsletters or announcements door-to-door, this can and may be considered an act of interference with management,” Edgerton wrote. 

That assertion flies in the face of Oregon law that preserves tenants’ rights to assemble. 

Oregon Revised Statute 90.750 reveals that owners cannot deny residents’ rights to assemble or canvass in a facility. It reads: “No provision contained in any bylaw, rental agreement, regulation or rule pertaining to a facility shall: Infringe upon the right of persons who rent spaces in a facility to communicate or assemble among themselves, at reasonable times and in a reasonable manner. Prohibit any person who rents a space for a manufactured dwelling or floating home from canvassing other persons in the same facility for purposes described in this section. As used in this subsection, “canvassing” includes door-to-door contact, an oral or written request, the distribution, the circulation, the posting or the publication of a notice or newsletter or a general announcement or any other matter relevant to the membership of a tenants’ association.”

Keizertimes asked representatives of the Manufactured Communities Resource Center (MCRC) where this fell within the rights of an owner. 

“MCRC doesn’t provide legal advice. However, after reviewing the tenants’ rental agreement, MCRC would encourage dialogue between the parties; reminding both parties of the applicability of ORS 90.750. Failing agreement, either party may seek mediation at no charge to either party; if a mediated agreement remains unresolved, either party may elect civil action,” said Ariel Nelson, MCRC’s communications liaison.